Tag Archives: toddler

Toddler Routines with Photos

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Depending on our current “phase,” we have certain times of day that somehow make me crazy. Kids are kids, and it’s my own fault, but I let the little frustrations or little moments of resistance eat away at my patience instead of embracing the slow pace and “inconvenience” of motherhood to littles. It’s in those moments that God is trying to teach me and refine me. However, there are also times when we really need to get somewhere at a certain time. In those cases, we were inspired by ideas from Training A Treasure to establish a routine, and to implement that routine, take photos of our kids actually going through each step of the routine to make a chart.

First, I used this strategy for getting out the door. When Pen Elaine was younger and Snuggly Man was a tiny baby, getting out of the house in a reasonable amount of time and without losing my patience was a major challenge. This time of day was apt to chaos and far from peaceful, and the routine really helped cross that hurdle. Over time, the routine changed and the need for a specific routine waned, but at some point, we’ll probably make a new one for a refresher when Snuggly Man needs to have “jobs” for getting out the door.

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By the way, to make my little photo chart, I used my smart phone! I simply took the photos, used picstitch (app) to organize them into a collage/order, then added title and artwork with Overgram (app), and printed them straight to my wireless printer! Good luck!

More recently, we have established a morning routine for after my Honey leaves the house. This had become a time of frustration for getting Pen Elaine to help clean up after breakfast and get ready for the day. I especially wanted to change our morning ritual so that we had moments of connecting in a close, positive way before leaving the house for morning commitments that would start up this fall. I found myself losing patience and getting irritable because Pen Elaine was fighting me on her morning jobs of cleaning under the table and making her bed, but I knew I needed to make time for close connection with her in the midst of getting required chores done. I wanted to start the day well with her and Snuggly Man, with servings of grace, love, and responsibility. So, Pen Elaine and I worked together to decide what our morning routine would include. We made our kitchen cleanup time more fun by putting on music before we started, then we took time to read a book together before starting on our next set of responsibilities: getting dressed and making beds. Finally, we ended our routine with a game of hide-and-seek, one of our favorite activities 🙂 Now, we actually get through our morning chores faster than before and with a LOT less grumbling and arguing. Plus, we feel like a team on a mission together with lots of room for fun and love along the way.

Philippians 2:12-15

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”[c] Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

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Remembering to Feed the Ducks

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Remember to feed the Ducks @ Whimsinlove

I have not written a post in over a month because my computer screen was on the fritz for a while, we traveled for a week, the fall schedule got up and going, and, most of all, I have been working on living and “relaxing” in the everyday moments of being a mom with two littles. I self prescribed myself to soak up the fleeting phases of my children, trying to listen to God and see His beauty in the way He starts on people. To see and shape my daughter’s heart, I need to stop and listen to her words, and not feel hurried by the list of things to do or rushing her into clothes, the car, the next stop, etc. when I am focusing on her. Some days, she needs to be home with me, while baby brother is sleeping, and just play…or craft…or read…because she will only be 3 this one year.

It’s easier to remember the passing of time and phases when (1) another kid starts to kindergarten and all of a sudden, the first five years seem like the blink of an eye and the time has arrived for this child to stretch her wings, or (2) my baby starts crawling around the house and almost sleeping through the night and looking like a giant. I’m reminded to enjoy the little moments, like brushing my little girl’s hair for her, snuggling with a little mama’s boy who has a crazy, toothy grin, and not be weighed too heavily with the toddler-sized anger issues, the squashing baby brother like a puppy, the piles of laundry from wearing 5 different princess dresses in one day…because it’s actually the sweetest thing to watch a miniature human learn how to make kinder choices, to pray instead of hit, to explore what it means to be a girl in the world. Being their mother means everyday holds different joys, heartaches, challenges, and lessons that God is trying to teach me, and sometimes we both say the same things a hundred times before seeing any fruit.

1 Thessalonians 4:10-12

But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.

 

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Instead of squeezing in a kitchen task while Pen Elaine takes a million years to eat a meal…I’m trying to use that time for question games and talking about situations or feelings or God’s Word.

“Olaf” pancakes are constantly requested, but all she really wants is whip cream.

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Rather than getting caught up with the getting there or the end result or the destinations, I’m trying to dilly-dally on the way, so that I can enjoy the pace of a curious toddler. The wonder of a butterfly, birds eating from our bird feeder, picking a flower for me from our flower beds, all awaken the depth and beauty inside a little girl’s soul, in a way that is unique to this special time of being 3.

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Here is Pen re-enacting a book we read, but most of the time, I read through a book and then check it off my mental list then onto the next item, instead of discussing thoughts more or acting the story out, so that I can find out how the book is touching my child’s soul.

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We got excited about our one strawberry harvested – Pen Elaine tasted the fruit of our scarce labor – we would probably have grown more fruit if I had taken more time out with her to care for that plant! Thankfully, her preschool heart was content with just the one.

 

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I’ve been reminded to recognize the still or routine moments  – riding in the car, eating a meal together, shopping at the grocery store, giving a bath, bedtime reading – are all opportunities for teaching, talking about Jesus, reciting Bible verses, asking questions and developing a close relationship as family.

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Instead of squeezing everything I can possibly get accomplished into the day, I need to just imagine the fun things to play with my kids in the next moment, while they are still young and hanging on my every word.

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Here is Pen Elaine after her first taste of salsa! She wanted to like it, I think, to be just like her daddy. She recently asked him if she was beautiful in her blue dress that she chose to wear, since his favorite color is blue. For learning to take place, kids need safety and love needs to be met first, and that can’t be accomplished in the hurried moments between activities or while I’m simultaneously looking at a screen.

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15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

While everyday moments are easy to wish away, God is reminding me that His ways are higher than our ways and only He can see the future and know how the pieces fit together. Since my life is so small on the line of eternity, I need to accept and relish in the details of this life God has given me. The season when the ducks are waiting at the neighborhood pond and my kids are excited about feeding them is a special gift of time before the seasons change.

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Pen Elaine’s {mommy’s} most favorite book…this week

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We have been discovering a plethora of delightful books this summer! Some books are favorites of Pen Elaine’s while others become favorites of mine, so we can practice showing consideration for the other by reading the ones we know the other prefers, or sometimes we make a deal where I can read the one Pen Elaine really wants and then she’ll let me read the one that I really want, and vice versa.
Oftentimes, we win the other one over to loving our personal favorite…and oftentimes I’ve read a book I’m on the fence about so many times that I try to hide it on the far end of the bookshelf…
Anyhow, we both loved

Before I Was Your Mother by Kathyn Lasky and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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This is a very sweetly told story, first person, about remembering childhood while comparing it to her present state of motherhood and the inevitable changes it brings to a woman’s life. The memories are charming and colorful, and the end of the book warmed my heart every time, often to little happy tears…maybe I am just soft, but I highly recommend this lovely book. It reminded me of the beautiful blessings that God has given me and the love I get to pass in to my children.

 

 

Reading together is a great way to open up opportunities for discussion, even with a 3-year-old! Books open her mind to new possibilities and exploring the unknown. When we read together, we both think of questions that we’d like to ask each other. Pen Elaine is very inquisitive, and most all toddlers and preschoolers go through a very long “why” phase of wanting to understand how the world works. Reading a variety of books together helps encourage and develop curiosity and creativity and school preparedness. Reading together, just like eating dinner together as a family, is a way to promote success in school, teaching your child that they are loved and valued by the time you give to them, time where they can listen and also be heard. Reading is a time to snuggle and have safe touch, important for all areas of development in a young individual.

Pen Elaine’s most favorite book…this week

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Pen Elaine’s most favorite book…this week

We recently checked out the old classic Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina; I remember seeing this book on Reading Rainbow as a kid, and my Honey says it was one of his favorites. This is a funny tale that is quaintly dated, since it is about a “traveling/walking” hat salesman! We checked out the book on cd version and listened to the story being told, but where the real fun began was when we started acting out the story as we listened. Pen Elaine loved being the monkeys best, making me the hat salesman who falls asleep and gets all his caps stolen. We got to practice our imitation and how the characters in the story handle frustration and anger. Below, Pen Elaine is being the sleepy salesman (Snuggly Man soaking up our play in the background) while I sneak a photo and pretend to steal her caps before hiding up in “the tree” (on the bed) behind her. I think we re-lived and listened to this book about 5 to 10 times in this one sitting before I was really ready for a new activity…probably making dinner.

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Reading comprehension is a very important skill, so practicing ways of helping the message and events of a story to “sink in” prepares children for school success and all those standardized tests that will one day come to haunt their educational journey, ha! Furthermore, acting out stories or just the beginning of an event can open up a world into the heart of a child. Children act out their fears, joys, and representations of family, friends, etc., through dramatic play. The characters in her play will face and handle what is on Pen Elaine’s mind and heart…and often get into trouble for the same behaviors that Pen Elaine is struggling with at the time. Talking through these little dramas in the safe setting of dramatic play is a fun way to reach your child’s heart.

 

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Angry Little People

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Being a mom has changed my life, obviously, but some of the new experiences catch me by complete surprise. I am surprised that I can get angry at a 2-year-old…and that my 2-year-old would choose to be mean to other little kids. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised…

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The other day, we had a play date at a fast food playground with an old friend of mine, a mom of a little boy about the same age as Pen Elaine. Well, Pen Elaine is very outgoing and typically is not shy about playing on a public playground, but my friend’s little boy is a bit more hesitant and careful at first. They had been nice to each other, but the little boy was shy about climbing on the playground very much. As he is slowly going over to climb up the jungle gym, Pen Elaine decides to loudly inform this little boy that he can’t go down the slide…to which he turns around, crying, back to his mom. You can imagine that I was just a bit mortified. Here I was, thinking what a good job I’m doing raising my little girl to be kind to others, providing her with a 2-parent home and making my full-time job to raise and train her, and she excludes this little boy from the playground in a mean way…a shy little boy who had finally warmed up to play. In the meantime, I put her in time out, make her apologize and offer assistance, talk to her about how that would make her feel, etc., but I’m not sure if I’m getting through or not. Since, not too long after that, the little boy has started playing again, when out of the blue, Pen Elaine pushes him down, as she passes him on her way down the jungle gym steps and he’s on his way up. My child had yelled and pushed in a matter of like 20 minutes…so much for thinking I had anything special to offer as a parent. All of a sudden, it looked as if my sweet friend had an angel for a child, and I was raising a bully! Of course, my friend was completely gracious and understanding, and we agreed that Pen Elaine was tired, etc., which I’m sure was true, but I wondered what I was doing wrong.

I so easily fall into the guilt trap of feeling responsible for every one of my child’s choices. I feel the guilt for my child’s bad behaviors, while the weight of my own failings is heavy enough without taking on someone else’s actions. Clearly, every time I’ve gotten caught up in the moment of my kid acting out and acted crazy myself or responded with words too harsh or too loud, every time my heart was in the wrong state of mind, must be what Pen Elaine is picking up and emulating, instead of seeing Christ in me and emulating all that is good and perfect…

Then, God broke through my fog and reminded me that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. We are all born broken and sinful, with no way to save ourselves from the messes that we create.

Matthew 11:25-30:

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.g 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I am a self-analyzer, always trying to figure myself out, and so I am wondering what this looks like – this influence of the Spirit on our sinful natures versus the influence of my example in my child’s life. You see, I’m trying to figure out how my imperfect example of Christ’s love, my sweet moments and my frenzied moments, pair up with my little human’s bent toward selfishness and impatience, and I leave out God in the equation. I get so accustomed to controlling how my kids and I spend every moment of the day, that I fall under the illusion that I am in control of my little one’s life and her choices and her behavior. I have to be in prayer to remember that God is the only One who can touch her heart and her soul, and I am just a vessel or tool for His work. I get the privilege of being used where He is already moving, and I have to trust His hand in presenting her the perfect example and unfailing love in her life. When I’m living in God’s will, by His Spirit, I can display the fruit of the Spirit to her (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…), but when I’m making my own bad choices, I have to seek forgiveness and redemption and trust that God is greater than all my failed moments or missed opportunities.

Pen Elaine is in her phase of high emotions and low control. Something as seemingly trivial as wanting a certain type of fruit snacks (“gummies”) can start her down an emotional whirlwind to frantic kicking, crying, screaming, tantrum. Once she gets worked up, the hormones washing around her brain leave her powerless to pull herself out of her physiological state…without help. I was once helpless in sin, too, until God pulled me out through the power of the gospel. I became a believer in Jesus Christ at a young age, which means I don’t have too many memories of life before having the Holy Spirit to help me. However, seeing my sweet little girl have moments of desperation about fruit snacks reminds me how we all begin –  very lost and very in need of help. Even though she has her share of making bad choices, she wants to do good, she wants to be a helper, she wants to be nice to her friends, but she falls short.

I don’t have to be entangled in anger anymore, I can pray and rely on God to free me from sinning in anger. Sometimes (as in all the time), I simply need to hand over my cares and fears and moments of frustration or confusion and entrust them to God’s care and provision. He can calm my spirit and show me the way to life, beauty, and peace. Between sleepless nights, surging hormones, and two little ones with emotional roller coasters during the day, I have to be spending some of my “free” time reading God’s Word and in constant prayer to choose to live by the Spirit instead of my own humanity on a daily, moment by moment basis.  One day, I pray my little girl will also choose to believe in Jesus Christ and the saving power of His blood, so that the Holy Spirit will dwell in her heart, and she will be free to live out her calling to a full life.

Ephesians 2:8-10,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

A good friend recently reminded me of this promise, 2 Peter 1:3,

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

 

I am learning so much on this adventure of mothering, and I love my front row seat to Pen Elaine and her humanity and her beauty in how she was created in God’s image, with a thoughtful, passionate, tenacious, helpful soul that has only just begun to blossom.

 

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DIY Toddler Sewing with Burlap!!!

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I have been reading Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, which is a “mom book,” and loving it. One of the points that they make, which seems obvious now, but I had never labeled this part of parenthood in this way, is that we, as mothers, get to pass on our unique passions to our children. Instead of feeling like we need to do certain things with them or teach in particular ways or complete “X number” of craft projects with them, we can have freedom in molding and shaping their experiences by sharing the activities that tickle our own fancies and teach them out of what we love. God knew who our children would be before they were born, and in His perfect design, He gave me to my children as their mother.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:16

When we engage them in what we love, our enthusiasm for life is passed on and enjoyed together in a more real way. Then, one day, they may share our loves as adults and we will enjoy one another as friends with shared interests…or they may decide that model rocket launches are not their cup of tea, but they still won’t be able to help feeling nostalgic about them and like talking about them as a family… This has caused me to form one of my new philosophies, that works well during this time of no consistent afternoon nap time, (just “quiet time” for Pen and very loosely “scheduled” naps for Snuggly Man still), to share the things I enjoy with Pen Elaine and engage her doing them with me, instead of me trying to fit bits in when I can occupy my kids some other way. So, instead of sewing a little princess dress when Pen Elaine is having quiet time and Snuggly Man is sleeping or playing “under the sea,” I made my sewing project a collaborative effort with Pen Elaine, getting her to help me pull out fabric and figure out the sizes and talking with her through each step. However, when she couldn’t resist pushing the sewing machine pedal at her whim instead of just when I asked her, I knew she needed a side project to work on simultaneously…

Who doesn’t love a little burlap now and then? I had some scraps of burlap stuffed into (one of) my sewing bags and a little embroidery hoop that worked great to give Pen Elaine a little sewing project, along with her plastic yarn needle, to keep her occupied while I did some machine steps in the princess dress I was making for her. I felt like a genius to use burlap, since last time I just gave her construction paper with holes punched into it for sewing. Burlap is “hole-y” fabric that allowed her complete freedom for where she sewed, and she showed me a “smiley face” when she had finished the first project. We simply pulled the yarn back through to let her start again when she ran out of yarn. She was proud of her independent sewing and beamingly showed her daddy when he got home from work (as did I).

After completing this project, I searched for “toddler sew burlap” on Pinterest and found some of the same ideas – by tutusandteaparties, carrotsareorange, OhMahDeehness, and I loved the photo of a sweet toddler sewing basket idea.

My idea for our next “sewing” project is actually no-sew basket liners by DelineateYourDwelling.

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Easy Toddler Activity: Paper towel roll Engineering

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I am a hoarder of toilet paper rolls, plastic food tubs, and paper towel rolls…to name a few. This activity used up my paper towel rolls in a completely satisfying way, ha! The great thing was that it was so easy – all you need is the rolls and some tape (I used masking tape that comes off easily). I also used a big piece of saved packing paper to make cleanup even simpler, instead of taping the tubes directly to the wall, but definitely not a must.

We built tunnel slides for little balls – we used those little poof balls that you get at craft stores, but marbles would also work well for an older kid who will definitely not put them inside a mouth. Now, I can feel like I am encouraging my daughter to be anything she wants to be – including an architect or engineer, since I’m giving her the types of toy experiences that build those skills sets and encourage her that having fun doesn’t have to revolve around dolls or kitchen toys, ha! Plus, this is a lesson in problem solving, since the ball only rolled through to its final destination when we placed the rolls in the right types of ways – close enough together that the ball didn’t escape out the side and at a high enough angle to keep up its momentum for reaching the bottom.

As you can see, we started with one tube at an approximate 45 degree angle, then we added one straight down to establish a finish point, and from there, we enjoyed all types of trial and error – my Honey had to weigh in when he got home. We left up our slides for a few days of on-and-off experimental play.

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Supplies:

1. paper towel rolls that have been used up and saved (at least 3, depending on how old your kid is)

2. small ball that will fit, or pom-poms

3. tape – preferably masking tape, in my opinion, or anything that won’t leave residue on your wall and is easy to peel off

Setup: 10/10

All you gotta do is save up some used paper towel rolls, or toilet paper rolls would work just as well! Then, gather some tape and a little ball or fuzzy pom-pom.

Entertainment: 10/10

Pen Elaine was excited to see where the “ball” ended up with each test run, after adding or angling or taking away paper towel tubes. She loves tape, in general, as well…haha. We made a little “nest” for the ball to land in at the end of the slide, too, that was fun for little feminine heart.

Education: 10/10

I feel like a good mom on this one – encouraging a variety of skilled play for my daughter with opportunity to explore play that builds engineering skills. This activity encourages problem-solving, math concepts, and fine motor skills.

Cleanup: 10/10

Since I even taped my tubes to a paper (taped to wall), the cleanup was simply tear off and roll off for the trash.